June 23, 2014
WebMD Aims To Make Health Tech Actually Work
To be honest, most people I know with wearable and health tracking tech just use it as a novelty gimmick more than an important aid to improving health and fitness. Instead of streamlining a highly sophisticated health regime, the gadgets are more used to see how many steps it is to the bar, or something similarly fun but unhealthy. Half of the information gained is no more useful than the passing interest that would come from knowing how many minutes a day we had spent thinking about the opposite sex or what to do at the weekend
The problem, as recode.com points out, is that the gadgets will be gradually less used over time, left in drawers or on chargers. We all have a strange, natural tendency to become uninterested in things the longer we own them anyway, and sticking to fitness regimes is notoriously difficult. Just like an expensive membership at a swanky new gym doesn’t guarantee that most of us will attend for very long, so to is buying cool new health tracking tech no guarantee of monitoring our health and fitness better.
The transition from the use of one or two gadgets to an all-in-one, go-to location for all health monitoring needs is being undertaken by a wide range of market leaders. “Samsung announced S.A.M.I, Apple trotted out HealthKit… Microsoft is still plugging away with HealthVault and Qualcomm Life offers the 2net Platform.” And Google, as redOrbit tells us, “is reportedly planning to announce a new health-tracking service before the end of the month.” The service will be named Google Fit and will compile data from whatever devices we use to assess in one place.
When it releases Healthy Target this week, then, WebMD is not hugely different from many others in wanting to be the final destination for all our health tracking data, regardless of from whose device it originated; from Entra, Fitbit, ForaCare, Jawbone, Telcare and Withings, and regardless of whether it is from glucose meters, wireless scales, clever wrist bands or whatever else. But it is doing it sooner than many. Recode explains that Healthy Target helps people to achieve aims by “recommending lifestyle adjustments, sending reminders and providing encouragement. The service also helps users track their progress by translating health data into easy-to-understand visuals,” and tells us that David Ziegler, director of product management at WebMD, said “We can connect the dots and give people deep insight behind what those numbers mean.”
The app from the respected health site, which will be linked 2net Platform, a secure online health information location approved by the Food and Drug Administration, aims to encourage more efficient and long lasting use of the opportunities that technology offers us in improving our health, by making data easier to understand and by setting targets. We will get “actionable insights” and “easy-to-understand visuals.” As such, we may be able to stick to our goals of losing weight, improving endurance, tracking blood sugar levels or simply eating healthier, sleeping healthier and living healthier in general.
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